"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." – William Shakespeare
Is the glass half full or half empty? Is the responsibility a privilege or a duty? Is the help we've been asked to give an opportunity or an obligation? Do we "get" to do it or do we "have" to do it?
Attitude is everything. And luckily for us, our attitudes are a matter of choice. We can pick the attitudes we want much as we pick our clothes or hairstyles. Nothing or no one in the past or present can dictate our attitudes. No one else deserves credit or blame for how we choose to process reality. For better or worse, our attitudes are ours alone.
We all have the same world to respond to. What we practice, we become. If we practice looking at each day as a new adventure, so it will be.
I will develop an attitude of gratitude each day, giving thanks for my many blessings."
- From "Days of Healing, Days of Joy: Daily Meditations for Adult Children" By Earnie Larsen & Carol Larsen Hegarty
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." – William Shakespeare
Monday, April 27, 2009
When we lose track of time and focus on the past - or future - we can lose minutes, days, weeks, months or even years. I have to remember to think about what I want my tomorrow's to look like and then to stay present in today so that I am working toward my goals instead of wallowing in my head the jumble of thoughts - words, memories...feelings that I 'm trying to avoid - these are the things that can prevent me from joining the race and actually getting round the next bend in the road....
So - today as I remind myself that my current job it to practice living in my now and doing my now work I remind myself that if I just keep putting one foot in front of the other that my tomorrow's will all line up just fine.
So while slow and steady wins the race - we have to remember to wake up and step up to the starting line every day.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Below is an excerpt from an article I found on experiencing the art of living in a state of mindfulness....
A friend was walking in the desert when he found the telephone to God. The setting was Burning Man, an electronic arts and music festival for which 50,000 people descend on Black Rock City, Nevada, for eight days of "radical self-expression"—dancing, socializing, meditating, and debauchery.
A phone booth in the middle of the desert with a sign that said "Talk to God" was a surreal sight even at Burning Man. The idea was that you picked up the phone, and God—or someone claiming to be God—would be at the other end to ease your pain.
So when God came on the line asking how he could help, my friend was ready. "How can I live more in the moment?" he asked. Too often, he felt, the beautiful moments of his life were drowned out by a cacophony of self-consciousness and anxiety. What could he do to hush the buzzing of his mind?
"Breathe," replied a soothing male voice.
My friend flinched at the tired new-age mantra, then reminded himself to keep an open mind. When God talks, you listen.
"Whenever you feel anxious about your future or your past, just breathe," continued God. "Try it with me a few times right now. Breathe in... breathe out." And despite himself, my friend began to relax....
While it takes practice to be able to live in a state of mindful awareness and experience the "now" moment, this is the best way that I have found to move out of the shadow of the past and allow the future to be just that - the future - instead of allowing it to consume my life, my moments, my now.
Friday, April 17, 2009
BY JAMES B MAAS
Treating sleep as a necessity rather than a luxury is the secret to being a peak performer. When you don't get proper sleep, you experience increased stress, feelings of lethargy, weight gain, reduced immunity and lowered productivity and memory. How do you know if you are getting proper sleep? Answer the following questions:
* Do I need an alarm clock to wake up at the right time?
* Do I often fall asleep in meetings, after heavy meals or when watching TV?
* Do I often sleep extra hours on weekend mornings?
* Do I feel tired during the day? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it's likely you need more sleep.
THE GOLDEN RULES OF SLEEP
1. Get proper sleep
Identify the amount of sleep you need to be fully alert all day and get that amount every night. For most adults, it's eight hours. For teenagers, it's nine.
2. Establish a regular sleep schedule
Go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time every morning - including weekends.
3. Get continuous sleep
For sleep to be rejuvenating, you should get your required amount of sleep in one continuous block. Any nicotine or caffeine after 2pm or alcohol within three hours of bedtime will disrupt your sleep.
4. Make up for lost sleep
For every two hours awake, you add one hour of debt to your sleep debt account. It takes eight hours of sleep to restore 16 hours of waking activity. You cannot make up for large sleep losses during the week by sleeping in at the weekend. Try taking a 20-minute power nap at midday.
1. Keep your bedroom quiet, dark and cool
Sleep on a mattress with individual pocketed coils that reduce motion transfer, or a foam mattress designed to support your back properly.
2. Reduce stress
Even if you are sleep-deprived, anxiety can delay sleep onset. Try relaxation exercises. Write down your concerns before you go to bed - your worries then won't interfere with your sleep. Don't watch TV within two hours of bedtime. Take a warm bath before bed. Reading for pleasure before turning off the lights will ease you into sleep.
James B Maas, PhD, is a Stephen H Weiss Presidential Fellow, Professor and past Chairman of Psychology at Cornell University. He is the recipient of the American Psychological Association's Outstanding Educator Award and the author of Power Sleep.
What are some things that you have done to make sure you are able to get that good nights sleep?
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Here is a knock down example of living in the moment for sure!
Susan Boyle boldly stood up to Simon and said "I want to be a professional singer". The audience laughed...then listened.
Susan Boyle has led a quiet, sheltered life in a small village in Britain. She has not dated, never been kissed and spent the last several years caring for her elderly mother who recently passed away. She reported on this mornings cbs news that she is accustomed to be ridiculed and teased even now as an adult and that folks are "nice to her" now. Her appearance is unkempt, her hair wiry and unruly. Susan is 48 years old and when asked how she managed to do this and sing the (difficult) song she chose she said " I thought about the song".
Under circumstances that would have left me shaking in my boots and wishing there was a bathroom nearby, Susan Boyle chose to focus on the song rather than focus on the pain of losing her mother, the voices of the naysayers who criticized her, or the fears of her future. Susan Doyle magnificently knew that to experience this very moment at hand that she needed to place her attention on her present moment.
Go to CBS.com to watch the interview from this morning.
This quote is a wonderful expression of the idea of living in the moment! It causes me to stop and think about how I am spending my moments...my life. As in the study of economics, each of us has the limited resource of TIME and the unlimited choices of how we SPEND our resource of time...
Banking my moments...:-)
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
"Anja; what a terrific question! It took me a good bit of effort to find the awareness that you speak of - seeing that this moment is a good place and being able to discern the past and future from it. I have found that it takes practice to make that decision to stay in the moment...our thoughts come and go at the speed of lightening but I believe it is possible to learn to be aware that I am following the past or running into the future and stay right where I want to be - in this present moment...."
The question has come up on just how do we begin to "live in the moment"...and while I am not a Buddest monk that has studied for decades the massive subject of enlightenment nor am I a Rhodes scholar with a doctorate in anything other than life.
And here's the secret: it takes awareness.
And it takes (here's the hard part - no easy answers, sorry guys) - it takes practice.
So - these are the grand words that I have to share today on the subject of living in the moment and the path I have taken to conquer living in the land of oz where I was present in body...but not "present".....
I live now and only now, and I will do what I want to do this moment and not what I decided was best for me yesterday. - Hugh Prather
Monday, April 13, 2009
Ok. How did I learn to live in the moment was the question posed by Michele Rosenthal in her blog Parasites of the mind.
There are tons of things I have learned in this journey of moving from a life of black and white thinking to accepting all the color and experiences that life has to offer...but for this particular subject - (drum roll please!) - the answer begins with awareness.
In my journey I have found that many of the symptoms of PTSD have to do with avoidance. I would attempt to block out any type of stimulation that might trigger the intrusive memories and flashbacks of the life events that were too overwhelming for my mind to cope with.
In order for me to begin to heal, to live in the moment - I had to be willing to start to let go of my avoidence behaviors and learn to recognize when I was USING avoidence. This is where things get tricky because once I opened this door - in order to stop avoiding and become aware of this moment, my LIFE - I had to acknowledge the feelings and learn to face what I was trying to avoid.
Over the years, I had become a pro at my avoidence behaviors to the point that I was losing time, I had difficulty recalling memories and I lived a life of isolation where I could control my environment so therefore I could control what might trigger the flashbacks and nightmares.
After a traumatic experience, the mind and the body are in shock. But as you make sense of what happened and process your emotions, you come out of it. With post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), however, you remain in psychological shock. Your memory of what happened and your feelings about it are disconnected. In order to move on, it’s important to face and feel your memories and emotions.
I had not "made sense" of what had happened and had developed a method of coping that was still protecting me from danger, even though I was no longer in that situation.
I resisted experiencing life and shut myself away in a prison of my own making as I avoided more and more of life in an effort to stifle any memory that could trigger those intense emotions of loss, anger and grief at the hand that life had dealt me. Life - the world and the people in it - was to me, completely black and white, good or bad.
This was a big deal for me. After years of therapy I had not gained an understanding that I had the power to change my life. I was convinced that I was defective and broken and there was no cure, no ending to my misery. I had no understanding that my obsessing over the past and my efforts to avoid any triggers that might open the vaults of my memories and stir the pot of misery that I held in my mind was in fact stealing my life, or that there was anything I could do to change this.
The journey and included work has not been easy by any means. In making this decision to learn to live in the present moment, I had to reconcile that I would be opening myself to feeling again. But once I understood this idea - that I had a choice in what I thought about and that these intrusive symptoms could be overcome - I made the decision that I would find my way out of this living hell and take control of my mind and therefore my life.
There is no way for me to communicate this process in a simple outline of steps - there are many overlapping things - ideas, tools, skills - that I have learned and each one builds on the next to provide me with the skills and tools to change my life from one of isolation, avoidance and misery to being open, willing - and in great anticipation - looking forward to experiencing the full range of color that life holds.
So today let me just say this one thing that kept me going all these years: I knew that as long as I kept searching that I would find my answers. I determined that I would find a way out. Giving up - suicide, self harm, addiction, dissociation, depression - was no longer an option as the solutions for the intrusive thoughts and feelings of PTSD. There is always a solution.
If you or someone you know is experiencing troublesome or intrusive thoughts of harm to yourself or someone else please contact your local emergency 911 number or go to your local emergency room and ask for help.
Friday, April 10, 2009
In his book A New Earth; Awakening to your lifes purpose Echkart Tolle discusses how this moment is your life. For some reason I found that to be the most amazing idea. All this time I was wanting to find a cure, a fix, that would allow me to move on and "get a life". Yet in one moment of awareness, I understood that I had everything I needed to "fix" myself within myself.
My life had been consumed with trying to avoid the intrusive thoughts and anything that might trigger them. I was mesmerized by the racing thoughts in my head and an internal sense of victimization to such a degree that I had lost sight of the moment...the moments that I had lost because I was "stuck" in time as I relived the trauma situations of my life, thinking about what had happened, imagining things I could have done or said differently to have prevented the situation, the mistakes I had made that had perhaps compounded the situation and left me feeling guilty or responsible for the situation or how others had been affected.
These racing thoughts consumed my attention during the day and intruded into my dreams at night. This state of mind kept me in a constant state of hyper vigilance - just waiting for something to happen, ready to move into the adrenalin rush of the "fight or flight" response of my body and mind.
But in the midst of all that, after years of therapy, medications and self destructive behaviors I had that moment of clarity - that I could change my life simply by changing my mind.
That meant that I had to be willing to learn how to not avoid the memories, but to embrace them, feel the feelings, grieve the loss, acknowledge the anger - I had to realize that I was now in a safe place and in total control of my mind, body and soul. Like Michele says in her blog about constructing a post trauma identity I had to recreate myself; I had the opportunity to choose what kind of person I wanted to be today, what life I wanted to live in this moment.
As a result, I have been able to gradually, in my own time and my own way, move from the black and white thinking of a victim to being able to allow the idea that maybe life is not "all good" or "all bad"...and let some color in. Eventually I was finally able to see that life was full of color like that found in a swatch of colorful plaid fabric.
I hope you are able to find the path that will allow you to live life in full color too.
Seize the moment!
Monday, April 6, 2009
Living in a constant state of stress can take a toll on your body and mind; take a few minutes to enjoy the following relaxation video and practice visualizing yourself sitting by this stream listening to the sounds of nature surrounding you...and know you can return here at any time...